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Dermot O’Leary backs coronavirus appeal for developing countries

12 May 2020

12 May 2020

TV and radio presenter Dermot O’Leary has urged the British public to donate to a coronavirus appeal for people living in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Dermot is backing UK aid agency CAFOD’s fundraising campaign so that those in developing countries hit by the pandemic “get some of the care and support we would want [for] our own families”.

He said: “Millions of people in developing countries face devastation from coronavirus and will be able to do nothing to stop it. They need all the help they can get.

“That is why I am backing CAFOD’s fundraising appeal, so that people already living on the brink get some of the care and support we would want our own families to receive.”

Dermot has previously visited Sierra Leone with CAFOD where he met former child soldiers undergoing rehabilitation.

He added: “Some of the children I met when I visited Sierra Leone will be young adults with their own families now. I can only imagine what they are going through. Born into civil war, their country has just survived Ebola and now they are facing the coronavirus pandemic.

“Please give whatever you can and help CAFOD’s local experts deliver food, provide clean water and train community leaders to help save lives.”

CAFOD Director Christine Allen said: “The potential scale of the coronavirus pandemic across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East - as well as among refugee and displaced populations in places such as Syria, South Sudan and the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh - is truly frightening.

“Aside from the many deaths that are likely due to infections, millions of people around the world who already struggle to feed their families will face extreme hunger and poverty.

“We are so grateful to Dermot – a lifelong supporter of CAFOD – for backing our appeal and giving a voice to the voiceless.

“Our local aid experts are already responding. You can too. Please donate at”

According to the UN over a third of households in Africa have no access to handwashing facilities, and almost another third has limited access with either no water or soap. Millions of lives are at risk, with estimates that between 300,000 and 3.3 million people could lose their lives as a direct result of coronavirus (UN Economic Commission for Africa COVID-19 in Africa Report, 2020).

Notes to editors:

  • CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. It works with communities across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality (

  • Experienced broadcast spokespeople available in the UK and CAFOD’s country representatives based overseas – including in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • Photos are available of CAFOD’s coronavirus response in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

  • CAFOD is experienced in responding to this type of crisis. It worked with faith and local community leaders, as well as local aid experts, in fighting the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and more recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These experts are rooted in their communities - a trusted presence - with exceptional reach and impact, ensuring that marginalised and vulnerable people in communities receive the life-saving hygiene information they need.

  • Donations to CAFOD’s Coronavirus Appeal can be made online at or by telephone: +44 (0)303 303 3030.

  • CAFOD’s coronavirus petition, calling on the UK Prime Minister to ensure the most marginalised people are prioritised in the UK’s international efforts as well as at home, can be accessed online.

  • For media enquiries please contact Nana Anto-Awuakye (, tel: +44 (0)207 095 5456, mobile: +44 (0)7799 477541) or CAFOD's out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301429.